The Finest Gaming Laptops for 2020: Razer, Alienware, Predator, and Extra

This article was last updated by Digital Trends Computing Editor Luke Larsen on July 6th, 2020.

The razor blade is the best gaming laptop we've tested. It's slim, powerful, and looks great with a fantastic display. But it's not the only gaming laptop that we love.

We tested almost 400 laptops and carefully considered how the individual laptops behave in key areas such as performance, display, battery life and build quality. We even included options for the best G-Sync laptops, serious desktop replacements, and even budget deals.

The best gaming laptops at a glance:

The best gaming laptop: Razer Blade

Dan Baker / Digital Trends

Why should you buy this: You want a gaming powerhouse with a MacBook-like sense of style.

For whom it is: Players who need something small and light that can take a punch.

Why we chose the Razer Blade:

The Razer Blade offers serious gaming performance in a slim package. The system supports its slim design with an attractive, matt black unibody aluminum housing. The result is a system that looks very similar to the black MacBooks of yore (that's a compliment). It stands out from the crowd with its elegant design and impressive keyboard and touchpad with chroma lighting.

However, knowing which ones to get can be difficult, as Raze offers a wide range of configurations, ranging up to a studio model with the RTX Quadro 5000. The blade will soon be available with 10th generation H-series processors. Up to 300 Hz screens and RTX super graphics. There's even a fierce 4K OLED model, though this isn't the best option for gamers.

Although it has many strengths, the blade falls victim to the limitations of its own footprint. In the past, they were hotter and louder than the competition with a thicker case and not as powerful as some laptops with larger frames. The price is pretty high too, but when you're ready to pay for it, you'll get an amazing slot machine that works just as well as a standard laptop.

Read our detailed report on Razer Blade (2019)

The most powerful gaming laptop: Alienware Area-51m

Alienware Area-51m ratingRiley Young / Digital Trends

Why should you buy this: You want to play the latest games on a laptop with the highest settings and resolutions.

For whom it is: Players who don't mind a heavy laptop.

Why we chose the Alienware Area-51m:

The Alienware Area-51m is unlike any gaming notebook you've seen. With its light gray exterior and sci-fi logos, it not only looks bold, but is also a real desktop replacement. We mean that in terms of the power this thing enjoys, as well as the actual components inside. The Area-51m has CPU options up to an actual desktop processor, the Core i9-9900K. This is an 8 core, 16 thread CPU that makes this laptop a lot more powerful than anything else out there.

When the updated version is released in June, the second generation of the Area-51m will receive the latest 10th generation Intel desktop chips and the Super GPU RTX 2080.

But the best? All components, including the GPU and CPU, can be replaced. In our review, we found that access to these parts was not as easy as the marketing suggested. Still, it's an insanely powerful laptop that can do almost anything at high frame rates on its 1080p 144Hz screen. Even if you plug it into a 4K monitor, you'll be impressed with how well games run.

It's not the gaming laptop you want when you take it with you on the go, especially because of its short battery life and sturdy case. However, if you want true performance, look no further.

Read our detailed Alienware Area-51m test

The best affordable gaming laptop: Dell G5 SE gaming laptop

Why should you buy this: It's the best slot machine you can buy for less than $ 1,000.

For whom it is: Students, gamers, everyone who wants a gaming laptop but doesn't want to break the bank.

Why we chose the Dell G5 SE gaming laptop:

You can't expect a gaming laptop under $ 1,000 to have an innovative design. But thanks to the Dell G5 SE, you can expect first-class performance. It is an all-AMD solution with the latest Ryzen 4000 processors with 8 cores and 16 threads. These are killer game and content creation chips that are widely used by the G5 SE.

The Radeon RX 5600M is the graphics card that is even available in the $ 880 configuration and surpasses the Nvidia GTX 1650 that is offered in many gaming laptops at this price.

The G5 SE also offers the option of a 1080p 144Hz screen and a four-zone RGB backlight. It may look chunky and dated, but the Dell G5 SE is the best gaming notebook you can buy.

Read our in-depth Dell G5 SE gaming laptop review

The best portable gaming laptop: Asus ROG Zephyrus G14

Why should you buy this: It offers excellent 1080p gaming performance in a surprisingly small package.

For whom it is: Content players and creators.

Why we chose the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14:

The G14 is different from any gaming notebook you've used. It's incredibly light, only 3.5 pounds – and only uses a 14-inch screen instead of the typical 15-inch variant. The result is the smallest gaming laptop ever made, especially given the power of this thing.

The centerpiece is the 8-core Ryzen 4000 processor from AMD. It is a beast. The multithreaded performance is unmatched for such a small laptop, making it a powerful option for video editors, 3D modelers, and content creators of all kinds.

Of course, it also offers excellent gaming performance. You have either options for a GTX 1650, a GTX 1660 Ti or an RTX 2060. If you can choose the 2060, you can play most games at more than 60 frames per second. You'll have to pay an additional $ 500 for the fancy programmable LEDs on the lid, but the RTX 2060 model for $ 1450 (excluding LEDs) is great value for money.

Read our detailed Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 review

The best G-Sync gaming laptop: Acer Predator Triton 500

Why should you buy this: It is a powerful gaming laptop with a thin and light design at an affordable price.

For whom it is: For players who primarily want G-Sync.

Why we chose the Acer Predator Triton 500:

G-Sync can shorten battery life, but when it comes to smooth gameplay, it's a popular feature for many PC gamers. The Predator Triton 500 is a fantastic gaming laptop that happens to contain Nvidia's important display technology.

The Triton 500 comes with an Intel Core i7-10750H and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Max-Q GPU. With an RTX 2080 Super Max-Q upgrade, he can keep up with many other laptops list for significantly less cash. As if G-Sync wasn't enough, the Triton 500 also comes with a refresh rate of up to 300 Hz.

There are some limitations. The Triton 500 doesn't look like a standard gaming laptop, but it also lacks the striking construction of other thin and light gaming laptops like the Razer Blade 15. Like its aesthetics, the battery performance of the Triton 500 isn't particularly impressive. However, if you're looking for the best gaming bang for your buck with a G-Sync screen, it's hard to do better.

Our detailed Acer Predator Triton 500 review

Research and buying tips

What does a gaming laptop cost?

Gaming laptops are usually more expensive than general-purpose laptops because they generally contain a dedicated graphics chip for better game visualization and frame rates. But they don't have to cost the earth.

Our favorite budget gaming laptop, the Dell G3 gaming laptop can be found for under $ 1,000. There are some alternative budget laptops that we like, though you will struggle to find something that is great for gaming if you focus on $ 500. At the top end, you can end up spending well over $ 2,000 if you want the latest components and fastest screens.

What should I look for in a gaming laptop?

If you want to play something other than classic games or indie games with very low intensity, you need a dedicated graphics chip. It doesn't have to be surprising, and AMD APUs with Vega graphics on board are worth considering in the lower price segment. In both cases, you want more than just built-in Intel graphics if you want adequate frame rates in most games.

It is also worth paying attention to a display with a high refresh rate. We think they're more important than higher resolutions when it comes to gaming, and they're usually not too expensive either.

You may also want to consider battery life if you don't want to play on an outlet, although you won't find many gaming laptops that can last longer than a few hours in intense games.

Are gaming laptops good for work?

Normally yes. You don't need a dedicated graphics chip to work, but the fast processors and high-speed RAM that gaming laptops typically come with can handle spreadsheets and Word documents as well as the numbers for the latest games.

On the other hand, a larger, thicker gaming laptop with RGB lighting may not be suitable for every job setting. A more understated design like the Razer Blade or the Dell G-Series gaming laptops fits much better, although being aware of it is a problem.

Are Mac laptops good for gaming?

Some are not bad, but most are not great. Apple only uses dedicated graphics chips in its 15-inch MacBook Pro models, and even these are underpowered compared to much cheaper Windows laptops. Software compatibility should also be considered as there are many more games available on Windows than on MacOS, even if Apple Arcade has been added.

If you just want a little Fortnite on your side, you can handle a 16-inch MacBook Pro, but these are by no means slot machines. However, if you really want to stay on a Mac, there is always the option to boot boot camp to dual boot, allowing you to run Windows 10 games on your MacBook hardware.

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